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Alfred “Mac” McNeill, a military veteran and Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) agent, is Jefferson County’s interim sheriff. He is 46.
Governor Rick Scott announced McNeil’s appointment on Thursday, Nov. 30, following the death of Sheriff David Hobbs, earlier in the week. McNeill will serve in the office until November 2018, when a special election is held to fill the vacancy.
“My main concern is to make the transition,” McNeill told the Monticello News on Monday morning. “He (Hobbs) was a beloved Sheriff. My concern is what I can do to help a Sheriff’s Office that is hurting. I want to help get it through the transition, to the next election.”
Sensitive to Hobbs’ special place in the community and his own outside status, McNeill is proceeding prudently.
“I understand the situation,” McNeill said. “People are hurting and here’s a new guy coming in. Sheriff Hobbs didn’t have a staff; he had a family. My concern is to honor the family and Hobbs’ legacy and continue the path he set.”
He trusts in the professionalism of the Sheriff’s Office to carry on.
“The Sheriff’s Office is well set up,” it makes my job easier. It’s an honor to be picked.”
McNeill also knows Major Bill Bullock, who has long served as the department’s chief deputy administrator.
“He’s a good rock to lean on,” McNeill said.
McNeill himself has 20 years of law-enforcement experience, going back to 1997 when he started with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and served a stint on its SWAT team. He joined the FDLE in 2004 and was assigned to the governor’s protective detail, where he has been ever since and served under three governors: Scott, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush.
McNeill said he first met Hobbs in 2004 at the now defunct Sage Restaurant on West Washington Street in Monticello. His first impression, McNeill said, was that Hobbs was a preacher, the way that the latter was working the room. Then he saw the gun and badge and realized Hobbs was the Sheriff. McNeill said Hobbs walked right over and introduced himself.
“He was very kind and generous,” he said. “We ran into each other 30 or 40 times after that. He was a great guy.”
McNeill hails from Alachua County, where he attended high school. He joined the U.S. Marines Corps in 1990 and served in the first Gulf War. He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Saint Leo University.
He currently lives in Leon County with his wife Catherine McNeill, who works in the Attorney General’s office.
McNeill said that when his assignment here ends, he plans to return to the FDLE and finish out his term with Scott. He was one of the agents that transitioned Scott into the office when the latter was first elected, he said. And he would like to be there when the Governor bids the office farewell.